Alessandro Bastoni and the partnership Antonio Conte wants to recreate at Tottenham next season

Alessandro Bastoni and the partnership Antonio Conte wants to recreate at Tottenham next season

Antonio Conte would like to recreate a key partnership from his title-winning Inter Milan within his new-look Tottenham team for the coming campaign.

On Conte’s instructions, Spurs have already signed Ivan Perisic before the summer transfer window opens, with the 33-year-old arriving at Hotspur Way last week. The Croatian international, who has won the Champions League, two Bundesliga titles, Serie A as well as domestic cups with four different clubs, is set to compete with 21-year-old Ryan Sessegnon down the left-hand side to give Conte a blend of experience and youth on that flank. Both players can also play further up the pitch if required.

With Perisic’s signature secured, Conte and Spurs’ managing director of football Fabio Paratici want to bring another Inter player to north London in the shape of 23-year-old Italy international Alessandro Bastoni. The young centre-back is happy in Milan but Tottenham are hoping that Inter’s need to sell to finance their summer transfer plans could end up pushing him towards a move once he returns from international duty.

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Bastoni’s agent Tullio Tinti appeared to hint that this week when he told Sportitalia of the defender: “He is certainly a big fan of the team he plays for, so he will happily remain at Inter. However, he is also a professional. This is football and he has to adjust. It’s clear he is very happy to play for Inter and feels this jersey like a tattoo on his skin.”

Tottenham’s interest in Bastoni is not just about making a random signing for a talented player. Not only has the centre-back worked extensively with Conte but he also forged a strong partnership down the left-hand side of the pitch with Perisic which began during their title-winning 2020/21 season under the now Spurs boss and continued into the following campaign.

Bastoni is able to play in either the center of a back three or on the left-hand side and when Conte converted Perisic into being a wing-back the two players struck up an understanding.

Bastoni certainly enjoyed their time together and last season told the Italian media: “The understanding that Ivan and I are creating this year is great, we have a lot of fun.”

After watching the super-fit Perisic score two goals in extra-time of the Coppa Italia final against Juventus and then impress again just days later in Serie A against Cagliari, the young centre-back said the Croatian is a different breed of footballer to most and someone he looks to as an example.

“Even in training he is always strong, at dinner I asked him what he ate because I would have eaten the same thing too, but it was bread, turkey and avocado, a deadly thing!” he told DAZN. “Ivan is a great professional to take as an example, he played 120 minutes in the Italian Cup and today he was better than Wednesday.”

The Bastoni-Perisic partnership has earned praise from the Italian media in recent seasons, not least in the 3-0 win away against Jose Mourinho’s Roma in December last year. Perisic was a constant livewire down the left, while behind him Bastoni not only helped keep a clean sheet but pushed up the pitch behind the Croatian and provided a fine assist for Denzel Dumfries to score.

After that game the duo were named as the standout players by Milan-based newspaper Libero. As detailed by Semper Inter, Perisic was praised for his tireless running, willing to bypass his opposite number on the left and his positional sense to hold down the left flank.

Bastoni was credited with his skill in possession, helping Inter dominate the ball against their neighbors and he was praised by the newspaper for his aggressive positioning, with the defender rewarded for his forays forward with an excellent assist for Inter’s third goal, as he drove up like a left-back and floated a perfect curling left-footed cross into the box for the right wing-back Dumfries to thud home with a diving header.

It was a move between both flanks that Conte would have been proud of had he still been in charge. Now the 52-year-old is at the helm of Tottenham and he is keen to restore that partnership on the left-hand side in north London.

The familiarity of the two players with each other would certainly aid their adaptation to the Premier League. In Bastoni, Spurs see a potential Jan Vertonghen heir with his cultured left-foot and ability to stride out of defense with the ball, while also being physically strong. Vertonghen also used to have good relationships on the pitch with the left-sided attackers at Tottenham, such as Gareth Bale and later Son Heung-min.

When Perisic announced his move to Tottenham last week, Bastoni responded on Instagram with the simple message “Good luck brother”, accompanied by a heart emoji. The decision now rests in the young defender’s hands as to whether a reunion with Perisic and Conte can happen and he will follow his Croatian brother to the Premier League this summer.

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